I was raised out West in a big rollicking family, riding horses by the time I could walk. Since children in large families often have to entertain themselves (their parents can’t be everywhere at once), my earliest memories are of creating stories with my twin sister DJ (on right in photo). As “wombmates”, we developed our own language before we could articulate English, and around the age of three, we invented a curious pastime we called “The Rocking.” Each afternoon, we climbed onto a stiff, green couch and rocked in unison until we conjured a trance-like state, where we somehow managed to enter our stories as though slipping through a portal (honest!). All remnants of our drab living room disappeared, and we found ourselves interacting in a realm of imagination. No one ever told us this wasn’t possible, so while we rocked, we continued the tale we’d created from the previous day, which included dialogue with a winged horse who carried us to lands of adventure. We rocked so hard (even in the family station wagon) that our hair tangled into hopeless knots. Yet our mother, who possessed a whimsical streak of her own, never dreamed of telling us to stop. And our older sister Suzi only urged us on by contributing creative plot ideas of her own. To this day, whenever I ask my sisters about scenes from The Rocking, they share the exact same memories I have of our ongoing saga that lasted for years.
DJ, Suzi & Diane on the living room couch that started it all
And the truth is, little has changed…
What I learned from these enchanting escapades is that stories have the power to transport us and to broaden our ideas of what’s possible—even when they sometimes reflect hard and complex truths. How is it that our sisterly minds met so perfectly, not unlike readers who unite with an author’s thoughts while becoming absorbed in a favorite book? Our memories of The Rocking are as vivid as any other childhood activity, yet when we reminisce, we’re not merely recounting the stories we created in childhood—we’re also recalling the experiences we had of visiting those realms and the ways it changed our perceptions forever.
Today, I continue to embark on these “spirit journeys”, only I manage to enter through the portal of a computer rather than swaying on a dusty, old couch. And you can bet I still consult with Suzi and DJ for their insights into my latest novels, because they’re far better storytellers than I will ever be. Although I eventually earned a Ph.D. in American Literature and Creative Writing, in my heart I know my diploma is simply a fancy tribute to a path that began in early childhood. From the playful imagination of sisters came a passport to new horizons—and it’s my hope that you’ll enjoy my novels and the gateways they open to life, a little wisdom, and the myriad complexities of the human heart.
SISTERS WHO ROCK: Suzi & DJ today—as vibrant & adventuresome as ever
Our Heroes Have Always Been Cowgirls…
The above photos are of DJ & I showing our horses at age 8 (our mother made these costumes). We got the bay horse for free, and the chestnut horse came off the racetrack for $100 with the saddle. She bucked me off after the show, but I loved her anyway. Throughout our teen years we acquired many horses for a dollar each because no one else could ride them. In our early twenties, DJ and I rode from Mexico to Canada and back on mustangs caught on BLM land. It took us a year, and we couldn’t have been happier.
When the sunset calls your name, don’t forget to answer